The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of Fiscal Year (FY) 2012

By Chandrashekar (Chandra) Tamirisa, (On Twitter) @c_tamirisa

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There is considerable consternation for good reason about the NDAA appropriations for FY 2012. Al Gore campaign adviser from 2000 and well known feminist Naomi Wolf wrote on Project Syndicate, the United Nations (UN) blog, concerned about the epidemic of endemic violation of civil liberties since 9/11 from America to Middle East And North Africa (MENA) and back again.

The specific provisions of the law are better summarized on Wikipedia than on Thomas, the Library of Congress’ legislative information public website.

On the face of it the law is meant for Al Qaeda, a targeted enemy of the United States which had declared war on the country and for Taliban which aided and abetted Al Qaeda in Afghanistan to carry out the 9/11 attacks and fight the US and allied troops in the Afghan war since. It is also applicable to other US citizens and non-US citizens under international law, especially since the election of Barack Obama and his administration’s work with the UN to codify treatment of those identified as terrorists.

As I have written extensively in these pages earlier, post-9/11 legal actions against US and non-US citizens have largely been ad hoc and makeshift with no reforms of existing laws such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) as applicable to the Patriot Act to ensure that constitutional rights, the ensuing civil liberties and access to due process, including citizens’ civil and Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) criminal legal actions against elected officials and their appointees, are not violated in both civil and military legal jurisdictions when the government prepares its case against those it only suspects as “terrorists.” Anti-terrorism laws are not a cover for abuse of power by the government or powerful interest groups.

Dissent is not terrorism. Dissent is protected in the United States by the First Amendment, No Fear Act in government, civil service protections, and by whistle blower laws. If dissent is terrorism, the war on terror has already been lost.

Covert government actions inside the United States must be subject to counter intelligence to ensure that the people, anywhere in the world, are not being subject to harassment such as guinea pigging (using people as experiments and shields to protect government policies), a federal crime, for disagreeing with US policy in the public domain. For example, monetary policy independence of the Federal Reserve does not mean that the agency can play footloose with the law at its own behest or that of the Congress or the Executive. Bureaucratic management by political appointees is not a political quid pro quo. Civil servants are not obligated either publicly or privately to support government policies.

Broad information gathering about all citizens (Total Information Awareness or TIA in its variant forms) by the government using surveillance through electronic and other means neither establishes intent nor does intent as interpreted by the intelligence community necessarily implies illegal action.

No law is broken until it is, in fact, broken. For example, 9/11 could have been prevented had laws similar to NDAA and the Patriot Act already been in place not because the hijackers would have been preemptively detained but because they would have been shadowed to avert the attacks even if allowed on the aircraft.

As US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) prepare to leave Afghanistan by 2014, closing out military involvements in both Iraq and Afghanistan, Guantanamo, Al Qaeda and Taliban must be addressed properly.

Al Qaeda – a stateless actor created by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) because Saudi Arabia had rendered its citizen, the now killed Osama Bin Laden by US special forces in exile in Abbottabad, Pakistan, stateless by stripping him of his citizenship – becoming a state actor similar to the Irish Republican Army (IRA), Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Hezbollah, Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood will end its pariah status. Governments must be proscribed from divesting their citizens of their citizenship involuntarily, no matter the disagreement or offense even if it is treason because damage control can be costly.

To gain legitimacy Al Qaeda must voluntarily disband itself (or be disbanded) and its members must (be) return(ed) to their home countries to be dealt with subject to international human rights conventions and their domestic laws. Likewise, Guantanamo prisoners should also be returned to their home countries.

Due process, innocent until proven guilty not until proven guilty by whatever means, is sacrosanct.

America’s defense posture in a changing world after Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan’s drone attacks must also change: (a) defense modernization; (b) complete unilateral denuclearization; (c) domestic and foreign sustainability work on the ground using US military in clean infrastructure construction and support; (d) coordination of government departments to create coherent legislation to change American way of life to target US carbon emissions to 20% of 2012 levels by 2030; (e) absorb National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) deep space initiatives (the Federal Aviation Administration, FAA, regulating air traffic and commercial space). This can be the next NDAA.


About Chandrashekar (Chandra) Tamirisa
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